Venus at 4%

Today Venus was a very delicate crescent, with only about 4% of it’s visible disc illuminated by the sun. I used the 127mm f/8 refractor with a 1.4x teleconverter and took a number of images using the Nikon D750. 20% of 46 individual images were used to create this image using the software Autostakkert:

127mm f/8 Astro-Physics, Nikon D750, TC-E14II

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The sun 2017-01-28

The sun shows only few spots when near solar minimum. Today the Spots AR2629 and 2628 were clearly visible.

Astrophysics 127mm f/8 with Nkon TC-14EII and Nikon D750 Baader solar film (photographic density).

Taurus Molecular Cloud

Inspite of all the beautiful stars, I have a fascination for the dark stuff lurking between them Today I managed to get almost an hour of exposures of the Taurus molecular cloud,

The dust cloud between the Pleiades and Auriga is called the Taurus molecular cloud, 27x120s (54m), AF-D Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 at f/2.8, Nikon D750, ISO 800.

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Giant Sunspot AR2456

These days the large sunspot AR2456 is very prominent on the sun’s disc:

M13, M5, M57

In spite of bad seeing and strong gusts of wind I did set up the big refractor to do some astrophotography. I spent quite some time to get things running – in the end the spring galaxies were already too far west in the glare of the train station, so I switched my targets to two globulars and a planetary nebula. Here is a list of what went wrong:

  • I wasn’t aware that the D750 uses a non-standard USB port on the camera, I had to search for half an hour to find the original cable
  • the laptop I usually use has been upgraded to Windows 10, installing the drivers for the guiding camera did not work
  • on the backup laptop guiding with PHD worked, but Backyard Nikon crashed and/or got no connection to the camera, I tried many combinations of USB extension cables, USB ports, removing the SD card, formatting the SD card, upgrading to BackyardNikon 1.0.5, in the end I focused using live view of the camera and used the built-in interval timer of the camera to shoot 30 second exposures…
  • the seeing was really terrible, making focusing difficult, and bloating the stars during the exposure
  • for reasons unkown (user error?) the quality setting on the camera was changed to FINE, so I only took JPEG images instead of NEF( Raw)

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